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Cheap Camera Challenge: Part 1

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We’ve got G.A.S

Photography can be expensive. It’s a proven fact which photographers and their long suffering, rational-decision-making Significant Others accept and put up with. Despite the sensible voice inside my head (which sounds remarkably like my dad’s voice) constantly pleading with me to stop spending money, it’s hard to resist temptation and splurge on gear all the time. It seems that “Having a good camera” and “having a good bank balance” tend to be mutually exclusive terms, in my experience at least.

Of course buying equipment can be a perfectly valid thing to do depending on what equipment you need to take the particular photo you’ve envisioned or type of photography you specialise in. If you’re a wedding photographer, you need backups, and it’s going to be tough to become the next National Geographic prodigy with the 18-55mm that came with your camera.
Sometimes we tell others – “The camera doesn’t matter” – then sort of ignore our own advice and go buy the latest 28-200mm f/0.95 AF IR ED VR HSM USB GPS MKVIII because that lens is perfect, it will totally improve our photos and we don’t need any more gear ever, until next month.

Illustrated: a bad case of G.A.S

Illustrated: a bad case of G.A.S

The Challenge

It doesn’t help that because almost all we do all day, every day, is deal with all manner of the best photography equipment ever made, we’ve both got some pretty fancy personal gear. You can therefore imagine our confusion as to why we we’re not being inundated with publishing requests and exhibition schedules. We have great cameras, so we must take good pictures, right?

And then, a revelation:
Maybe we are just not very good.

To confirm this theory is wrong and to show how awful our Leicas and Hasselblads are, and that it’s certainly not us, Tom, Lucinda and Myself are going to take two rolls of film each with three identical box cameras:

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If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of box cameras, those are essentially a box with a hole in it; no focusing, tiny viewfinders, the most primitive lens imaginable and a fixed shutter speed, with maybe a bulb setting if you’re lucky. But, in the right hands these are formidable tools:

The rules

  • We can use only the camera provided. Light leaks? Tape it up. No replacements.
  • Any manner of attachments or accessories can be used. Filters, tripods, flash – whatever is needed.
  • The two films can be any choice. Colour, Monochrome, Slide, Print, Infrared
  • The results can be scanned or printed but there must be no manipulation of the final image beyond basic cropping / contrast / exposure / dodging & burning. Dust removal is OK.
  • We will each choose two photos for judging, which will be done by you on our social media!
  • We’ve got one month from the start of the challenge to complete both films and develop them
  • Below is a portrait by Cecil Beaton, and was taken in 1928 on a humble box camera. I remember the first time I saw this photo and was in awe at how he managed to get such a wonderful image from such a primitive camera.

    So that’s the plan. To really test our skills on a basic camera, with a woeful lens, and barely any settings to see if we can beat Beaton.

    cecil beaton box camera

    West Yorkshire Cameras
    Unit 19, Leeds Corn Exchange LeedsWest YorkshireLS1 7BR England 
     • 01132460868

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